MALD Miniature Air-Launched Decoy UAVs
Raytheon’s Miniature Air-Launched Decoy missiles get a mass-deployment upgrade…
Miniature Air-Launched Decoy missiles, or MALDs, are slowly becoming an unsung hero in the U.S. Military’s arsenal. But now, a new highly effective upgrade is about to see the technology become even more useful.
Used as an alternative to expensive stealth bombers, MALDs are missile-type aerial drones that are designed to mimic the fly characteristic of U.S. planes. They are deployed ahead of the fleet to distract the enemy, causing them focus radars on the MALDs and waste valuable surface-to-air ammunition. The Navy’s Prowler and Growler jets can then jam the radars focused on tracking the MALDs, and create safe passage for the following bombers.
Image Credit: Raytheon, 2011.
Initial designs lacked range, but in 2009 Raytheon came up with design that could go for 500 miles; the bot’s then became useful. The Navy showed interest in buying some, as did the Air Force, who also requested it own small radar jammer to be incorporated into the design.
MALDs are typically launched one-by-one, from F-16s, F/A-18s or B-52s, but now a new mass-deployment design could allow MALDS to be deployed in much larger numbers.
The new launch system, tested on a C-130, utilizes a complex rack attached to the cargo ramp of an airlifter. The rack can drop a ton of MALDs at one time, allowing the craft to “deliver hundreds of MALDs during a single combat sortie.”
Having the ability to deploy larger number of MALDs would allow for more distracting swarming tactics, which could hide real warplanes from view.
Raytheon has also promised version with sensors or warheads built inside, adding eyes and weapons to the fleet of unmanned aerial decoy bots.
- Casey Chan: Swarming Decoy MALD Missiles Are a Cross Between Cruise Missiles and Drones. Gizmodo, 06/01/2011.
- David Axe: Decoy Swarm Could Overload Enemy Defenses. Wired, 06/01/2011.